Tackling a Women’s Ski Camp in Utah
“Slow and steady, lady,” the ski instructor reminds me.
Utah slips quietly into my mental background as I take on my first blue run ever at the Deer Valley Resort. A minor accomplishment for some, a gold star for me. This site of the 2002 Olympics is where I succeed at this personal battle. Today, I have my Olympic moment of sorts: my teacher is none other than three-time Olympian Heidi Voelker, who retired from competition in 1997 to take on the role “goodwill ambassador” at the resort.
Chatting later at lunch, Voelker informs me that novice women like myself are especially satisfying to guide.
“There’s nothing like watching a woman take on a black diamond run for the first time,” she notes, intimating such a tour is in my future.
“Baby steps,” I assure her.
Utah’s diverse resorts offer a variety of on and off-mountain activities perfect for females of all abilities and ages. Whether ladies like to cruise corduroy groomers or to test their skills on black diamond runs a mountain retreat is a wonderful way to rejuvenate. Some ski schools at Utah resorts have developed special learning programs for women, especially those learning to ski or snowboard at an older age.
Two-time Olympian Holly Flanders, who leads women’s classes at The Canyons resort, enjoys watching her female students experience mental and physical breakthroughs.
“Women often come to us when they are stuck on a plateau in their skiing,” Flanders said. “They are not very excited to ski, and they feel comfortable on the groomed blue runs, but freeze up as soon as they get into anything more difficult. Once they build the skills, it becomes natural and safe for them to get into more difficult terrain like bumps and powder and black diamond runs. When they are improving their skiing, the sport becomes safe, dynamic and challenging, and the fun factor goes way up!”
Emily Moench, Public Relations Director at Snowbird, notes that women’s programs are popular with repeat guests.
“We’re proud that our female guests give us high ratings,” Moench said. “Snowbird’s Mountain School teaches women of all levels, from beginner to expert, giving them the confidence to advance at their own paces.”
Get hooked on women’s skiing at the following great destinations:
Alta. This mountain school’s supportive staff of certified instructors teach students the fundamentals of women’s techniques, strategy and equipment. They are dedicated to helping women reach their full potential in an atmosphere that is fun and inspiring. A six-week program is open to advanced intermediate through expert skiers. Students explore Alta’s world class terrain, while learning to dissect skiing movements and determine “what works” for the conditions that day. Those new to the program meet for a ski orientation to allow familiarity with the mountain and proper group placement.
Alta’s Goddess Off Trail Funshop is a two-day off-trail women’s seminar featuring coaching and guiding, learning the secret nooks of Alta and enjoying the sisterhood of the mountain. Students and coaches get together at the end of the day to review the day’s events and make a plan for the next day. Another two-day program, Alta Blue Angels, is designed for intermediate women skiers, who ski on blue and green runs and are looking to improve their confidence and style. Students practice the skills of edging, pressure control, turn size and turn shape, later unlocking the secrets of reading the terrain and how shaping turns helps with speed control.
The Canyons. This family-friendly resort offers specialized women’s workshops directed by two-time Olympian and World Cup champion Holly Flanders, who has been leading the three-day sessions for many years. Participants, many of whom come back year after year, are challenged at a level in which they feel comfortable and safe. Many come back year after year and have made lifetime friendships with other participants. Each session starts with tech talks. On the mountain, participants form small groups with skiers of similar ability levels, and the entire group lunches together. Evening consists of hors d’oeuvres, video analysis, and tips on ski equipment, boot fitting and alignment, stance and balance. Participants must be intermediate level skiers or above.
Deer Valley. The mountain’s Exclusively for Women program shares the excitement and camaraderie of skiing with other women of the same ability zone while improving their skills. The programs are specifically designed for women and conducted by Deer Valley’s top female ski instructors. Three-time Olympian Heidi Voelker conducts some women’s sessions. The Women on Wednesday program is open to all abilities, and runs on five consecutive Wednesdays in January and February. The Women’s Weekends program runs full days Friday through Sunday in January and March. Advance reservations are necessary.
Park City Mountain Resort. This famous mountain offers a women’s snowboard clinic every January. Park City also hosts a Women’s only freestyle event, the Queens Cup Open. The competition brings girls and women from across North America to ski and snowboard with professional skiers and riders and then compete in a fun, low pressure environment.
One of the most unusual programs targeted at women at Park City Mountain Resort is their Snowmamas. The site is written by seven women from across the country who blog and give advice to other women looking to plan a winter vacation.
Snowbasin. A host resort of the 2002 Olympics, Snowbasin offers Snow Divas, a series of three- and five-session workshops, which provide customized coaching for women of all abilities in a relaxed atmosphere. The program is designed to build skills as well as confidence, to ensure a great experience skiing any run on the mountain. The female instructors at Snow Divas note that women carry their weight differently than men, and accommodate those differences in instruction. The classes run in January and February.
Snowbird. Just an hour from Salt Lake City, this resort has some of the most challenging slopes in the state. The resort offers for three and four day sessions with skiing in the company of other women, coached by women. Small group sizes allow students to move and learn at their own pace in an encouraging peer environment with plenty of one-on-one coaching. Participants include intermediates looking for that big breakthrough and experts looking for that big rush. The resort also offers SheRide, a women’s snowboarding program.
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